Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Paula Martin and 'Her Only Option'

I'm delighted to welcome my friend, Paula Martin, today. I can't quite remember where I first met her, but I think it was on the blog of a mutual author friend.  Paula's one of the most hard working authors I've had the pleasure of 'cyber'meeting, so far, and she'll pull out the stops to help anyone with a problem! 

She has another new release to share with us today and, yet again, it sounds like fantastic read.

That's a fantastic looking cover, Paula. Tell us a bit about it, please. 

My latest novel, ‘Her Only Option’, was released at the beginning of this month, two years after it was first inspired by my visit to Egypt in October 2010. At the start of my visit, I didn’t consciously think, “This might be a good setting for a novel.” I was far more excited about seeing some of the ancient sites.

I’d always dreamed of visiting the Valley of the Kings, and could hardly believe it when I finally stood in the antechamber of Tutankhamen’s tomb, and peered over the railing into the burial chamber where the gold sarcophagi had been found. I marvelled at the vastness of the Temple of Karnak at Luxor, with its carved columns, and huge carved wall friezes.
image courtesy of Paula Martin

I held my breath as the sun rose over Lake Nasser, turning the pre-dawn greyness of the Abu Simbel temples into a glorious sandy gold. I enjoyed watching ordinary life going on in the small villages we passed as our ship cruised along the wide river from Luxor to Aswan.

So many indelible memories remain printed on my mind. However, the moment when the first seed of a story idea was sown in my mind came, not at any of the amazing ancient sites, but during an afternoon’s relaxation on the sundeck of our ship when it was moored at Aswan. I started to imagine my (as yet unnamed) hero and heroine on a cruise ship sundeck, and then wondered, “What if they were on different cruise ships but met when the ships were moored alongside each other?”

That moment marked the start of the process of creating a new novel. First I had to work out who these two people were, and then to think about what story they were going to create for me.

Here’s the result:

Neve Dalton loves her job as a tour guide on a River Nile cruise ship as much as she values her independence. She isn’t ready to settle down with her Egyptian boyfriend, despite his repeated proposals and his father’s desire to see him married.

Nor is she ready to meet Ross McAllister, a compelling and fascinating archaeologist. She struggles against her growing attraction to him until she can no longer ignore what her heart is telling her. This is the man who sets her soul on fire.

When she starts receiving cryptic messages, and Ross’s work in the famous Valley of the Kings is threatened, Neve has to make a heart-breaking and life-changing decision which she feels is her only option.

Can they discover whose enmity is forcing them apart before it’s too late?

And here’s the scene where they first meet, on the sundecks of two neighbouring cruise ships:

Pulling off her ponytail band and running her fingers through her natural waves, she returned to the sun-lounger where she’d left her bag. After daubing herself liberally with sunscreen, she adjusted the large umbrella to give some protection from the strong afternoon sunshine, and then leant back, relaxed and closed her eyes.
About half an hour later, conscious of something she couldn’t quite define, she half-opened one eye. A broad chest partly hidden by an unbuttoned blue shirt filled her line of vision.
Squinting against the brightness, she saw strong arms and well-formed hands. His slim fingers curled over the top rail of the neighbouring sundeck and she let her gaze travel down the horizontal bars. Her glance took in his strong abdominal muscles, the curve of his slim hips, clad in tight-fitting red swimming trunks and his long, muscular legs.
Mmm, rather nice, was her immediate reaction.
“Good afternoon,” he said.
Embarrassed that her eyes had surveyed the length of his body, she looked up at his face. Even though he wore sunglasses, she knew he was staring at her.
“Oh—hello.” She sat upright and wished she could pull her large beach towel around her as a shield against his scrutiny.
He slid his glasses to the top of his head, flattening his thick dark hair. She couldn’t help but notice his amazing blue eyes. They reminded her of the shimmering ultramarine water of the ship’s swimming pool. His tanned features were as impressive as his male physique—broad forehead, high cheekbones, the slight indent of dimples in his cheeks, a wide mouth and a finely chiselled jaw.
Some primeval response stirred inside her.
“I was admiring your beautiful figure.” His deep voice held the faint lilt of a Scottish accent. “I hope you don’t object?”
A shaft of disappointment quenched her initial spark of interest. For some reason, she’d expected him to be different from the smooth-talking posers who sometimes tried to chat her up. Instead, it seemed he was simply another cruise-ship Casanova who thought flattering words in a deep honey-rich voice would make women fall at his feet.
Politeness to guests was rule number one, however, especially as he was on one of the Rahman cruise ships. Her professional persona surfaced. “Not at all.” She kept her voice casual while giving what she hoped was her best ‘I know your type and you don’t impress me one bit’ smile.
“You look lonely,” he said.
Realising her coolness hadn’t put him off, she reached for the bottle of sunscreen from the small table next to her lounger. “I’m enjoying the solitude. It doesn’t happen very often.” Maybe he’d take the hint from that.
He didn’t. “So where’s everyone else?”
“If you mean the guests, they’ve gone to the airport. The next group is due to arrive about five o’clock.”
“Ah, you’re staff then. What do you do? No, don’t tell me—” His glance slid down her body again. “With a figure like yours, you have to be with the Health and Fitness Club.”
“I’m a tour guide,” she replied, with as much dignity as she could muster.
“Oh, one of those.”
She bristled with indignation. Not just a cruise-ship Casanova, but a rude one too. “One of those? What’s that supposed to mean?”
He shrugged. “You hear them everywhere you go. Churning out half-baked facts from poorly-written and often inaccurate guide books.”
Her indignation flared into annoyance. “And that’s what you think tour guides do?”
“Most of them, yes.”
The man was insufferable. If she hadn’t been so annoyed by his condescending dismissal, she’d have informed him that she held a degree in Egyptology. But he wasn’t worth the effort. Anyway, he’d probably make another derogatory comment in response.
“So what do you do?” she asked with sugar-coated politeness.
“I’m an archaeologist.”
“Oh, one of those.” She couldn’t stop herself from repeating his earlier words but wished she hadn’t when she saw the lift of his eyebrows followed by an amused glint in his eye.
“I asked for that, didn’t I?” His grin, showing even white teeth, was disarming and infuriating at the same time.

 Paula Martin had some early publishing success in her twenties with short stories and four contemporary romance novels, but then had a break from writing while she brought up a young family and also pursued her career as a history teacher for twenty-five years. She has recently returned to writing fiction, after retiring from teaching. and has had four  romance novels published, ‘His Leading Lady’ in June 2011, ‘Fragrance of Violets in February 2012’,‘Changing the Future’ in May 2012 and ‘Her Only Option’ in November 2012.
She lives near Manchester in North-West England, and has two daughters and two grandsons. Apart from writing, she enjoys visiting new places and has travelled extensively in Britain, mainland Europe, the Middle East, America and Canada. Her favourite places are the English Lake District and Ireland. She’s also interested in musical theatre and tracing her family history.

Group Blog (with 3 other writers):

Find all her books on Amazon

I have to read this one soon, Paula. I loved the little bit of Egypt that I visited years ago, but I only saw the areas nearest to Cairo. The Valley of the Kings, Karnak... there are so many parts of Egypt for me to still visit. 

Thank you for popping in today, and my best wishes for great sales.



  1. Your book will be the way I feed my traveling fix and 'travel' to Egypt, Paula. From your eyes to my soul.

  2. Paula, I just love the way this story came about. And I'm with Ana....I'd love to travel to Egypt someday, but that might never happen, so I can't wait to experience it through your story.

    All the best to you!

  3. Nancy, thank you so much for having me as your guest today. My trip to Egypt rates as one of my most memorable and exciting holidays. Like you, I'd only seen Cairo and the Pyramids previously (about 20 years ago). I'd always longed to visit the Valley of the Kings, Luxor, Aswan, and the Abu Simbel temples, and the whole trip exceeded all my expectations!

  4. Ana and Debra, I hope 'Her only Option' will give you at least a small flavor of Egypt - although it's almost impossible to describe the mystical feeling of the Valley of the Kings, and the sheer splendor of watching the sun rise at Abu Simbel.

  5. I can only imagine how exciting it must have been to see Egypt and its ancient history. Americans have a fairly new country with buildings no more than 400 years old. To view something over a thousand years old just seems magical. How unfortunate that the upheaval in Egypt and the rest of the mideast will prevent visiting that region for the time being.
    I loved being in on your brainstorming for your novel. The premise sounds so enthralling. I wish you the very best, Paula.

  6. Hi Anna, Debra, and Sarah. Lovely to have you visit again. Have a great day!

  7. Sarah, thanks for visiting. Many of the temples we saw were over 3,000 years old, and the Pyramids are nearly 5,000 years old. Hard to believe that buildings could survive for so long and still be in such wonderful condition. I'd love to go back to Egypt, but the situation in the Middle East is now so volatile, I doubt I ever will.

  8. Ah, I can finally comment! Paula, I always love the covers of your books--they definitely draw me in and make me curious about the book. And I find your talks about your trip to Egypt fascinating--I have to go there someday. I agree with Nancy, you're one of the hardest working authors I know. Congratulations on the new release!

  9. Thanks, Jen. Must admit I really love the cover of 'Her Only Option' - and I've been so lucky with my other covers too (and the amazing artists who design them). I absolutely loved Egypt and really want to go back there, but sadly not in the present climate in the Middle East :-(

  10. Hi, Paula-I can understand your awe when you visited The Valley of the Kings. I haven't been in that part of the world--my goodness, you are a world traveler--but I've been all over Europe and I felt that awe when I first saw Notre Dame. Chills ran down my back.
    Your excerpt is very good--I think you have an excellent theme for your novels--set in places you've visited.
    I know you're not celebrating Thanksgiving--but I still wish you a wonderful weekend.

  11. Egypt is on my list, too. The book looks amazing. Hope you sell a million.

  12. Celia - thanks for visiting - and, coincidentally, Notre Dame features significantly in my next book!

    Jenny - thanks, a million would be wonderful, but I'm a few short of that ha ha!!

  13. Paula, it's been fantastic having you visit! Thank you, and best wishes with 'Her Only Option'.


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